Alternet has reported that CBS premiered a new reality show called The Briefcase. The premise is a competition that two struggling families must decide whether to seem “heartless and greedy” or “selfless and giving.’
The two families described as “middle-class” believe they are appearing in a documentary about money; however, a producer shows up with $101,000 cash in hand. The catch is that the families must decide whether they will take all the money, some of the money, or give away all the money to the other family in the same desperate situation. The network offers both families the same amount of money asking them the same question.
Alternet described the first episode:
In the first episode, the Bergins of North Carolina, a family of five–mom, Kim; dad, Drew; and three teenage daughters–are trying to make do on Kim’s salary of $15,50 an hour, since Drew’s ice cream truck business is failing. And in New Hampshire, the Bronsons–featuring dad Dave, an Iraq war vet who lost his leg in combat–are scraping by on the earnings of mom Cara, who works the night shift as a nurse and is pregnant with their second child.
The families are each asked to spend $1,000 on themselves to give them a taste of the money. The show then proceeds to guilt both families for even considering taking the money by giving them each details about the other families.
Disgusting isn’t it? Since I grew up in a family that relied on food stamps and survivor benefits from my father’s death, I know how these families feel despite my situation having changed. My parents are still struggling. I help out as much as I can, but they do struggle. My sister asked me if I had enough money for chicken nuggets at McDonald’s yesterday because she’s so accustomed to the money not being there for something like that. I would never want anyone to put my family in this position.
CBS, which has tons of money (last valued at $30 billion), should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. Rather than doing something charitable and helpful, they are planning, and will, make money off the exploitation of the poor. I hope you won’t watch this show because I sure as hell don’t plan to either.